A High-Tech Powerhouse

The Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley area is one of the nation’s premier science and technology centers, thanks to world-class research institutions supported by an advanced telecommunications infrastructure. 

The region is home to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee, Y-12 National Security Complex and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).


Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), managed by UT-Battelle, is the Department of Energy’s largest multidisciplinary science and energy laboratory with over 4,000 staff members from 84 countries with 3,000 guest researchers. ORNL has an annual budget of approximately $1.4 billion.

 The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has five core research areas:
  1. Nanotechnology and Materials Sciences:
    • Spallation Neutron Source, a $1.4 billion facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for research that leads to technological advances in science, electronics, and many other fields
    • Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a Department of Energy collaborative research facility for the design and synthesis of nanoscale materials
  2. Computational Sciences
    • National Center for Computational Sciences, a partnership that has built some of the world’s fastest supercomputers, including the recently launched Titan, which is the world’s fastest computer with a peak performance of more than 27 petaflops.
  3. Biotechnology
    • Systems Genetic Group, which conducts research in the systems biology of populations, studying environmental effects and disease using the mouse as a model organism
    • Computational Biology Group, which works on developing state-of-the-art tools for the analysis and annotation of genes to assist the DNA sequencing work that is being conducted around the world
  4. Energy and Environment
  5. Homeland Security
    • Technology and expertise to help government agencies and private industry with national and homeland security needs.
    • Global Security and Nonproliferation Programs, which work to reduce threats to the nation from weapons of mass destruction
    • The Technology Advantage Center, which finds and evaluates technologies for homeland security and national defense.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is home to a number of highly sophisticated experimental user facilities. These research laboratories are designed to serve laboratory researchers, engineers, and technical staff, as well as external researchers from universities, industries, foreign institutions and other government laboratories. The state-of-the-art facilities are shared with the scientific and technical community, providing the use of unique and specialized technology, equipment and instrumentation.

As a User Facility, the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) offers industry, academia, and other agencies the opportunity to access state-of-the-art technologies, equipment and instrumentation, and computational resources to advance transportation technologies. These resources are critical to their efforts in the areas of improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and addressing transportation systems issues, such as traffic congestion, evacuation planning and highway safety.

The Oak Ridge National Lab’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility offers distinctive world-leading capabilities in manufacturing and materials research technologies and characterization facilities that leverage previous and on-going government investments.

ORNL’s expertise in material synthesis, characterization, and process technology will assist manufacturing industries in conducting assessments of new fabrication concepts and methods for improving existing technologies.

High priority research activities include:

  • Additive Manufacturing utilizing a broad range of direct manufacturing technologies, including electron beam melting, ultrasonic, extrusion, and laser metal deposition for rapid prototyping
  • Carbon Fiber and Composites using a broad range of carbon fiber synthesis, characterization, and compositing technologies from precursor evaluation through carbon fiber pilot scale production (25 metric tons/year) for low cost, lightweight, and higher-performance carbon fiber

Other important research areas include:

  • Lightweight Metals Processing using advanced synthesis and processing technologies for low-cost titanium alloys, magnesium alloys, and metal matrix composite products
  • Low-Temperature Material Synthesis for lower energy and processing costs through biosynthesis of unique materials at low temperature
  • Roll-to-Roll Processing using pulse thermal processing and other advanced processing technologies to develop low-cost manufacturing of flexible electronics, photovoltaics, and energy storage systems
  • Transient Field Processing utilizing radiant, magnetic, ultrasonic, electron beam, microwave, etc. for dramatic enhancement of material properties beyond today’s limits, including increased fatigue life and strength and stress relief

Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium was established in 2011 to accelerate the development and deployment of new, lower cost carbon fiber composite materials. The Consortium draws on the broad experience that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has in research, development, demonstration and deployment of fiber-reinforced composite materials, and leverages the expertise of more than 45 member companies across the entire carbon fiber value chain. It also supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s investment in the new $35 million Carbon Fiber Technology Facility by providing industry perspective on the critically important transition of research and development to commercial application.


The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee, Established in 1794, has 46,000 students located at five campuses with an annual budget in excess of $1.5 billion.



  • The University of Tennessee is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Commission. The university conducts externally-funded research totaling more than $300 million annually, including some $17.3 million annually in research sponsored by ORNL.
  • Areas of joint research with ORNL include the Bioenergy Science Center’s work on cellulosic ethanol; the Center for Computational Sciences partnership with the National Science Foundation; and the Science Alliance, with divisions in biological, chemical, physical, and mathematical/computer science.
  • UT/ORNL Joint Institutes and Centers include Biological Sciences, Computational Sciences, Neutron Sciences, Heavy Ion Research and the National Transportation Center.


Y-12 National Security Complex

The Y-12 National Security Complex, is a premier manufacturing facility dedicated to making our nation and the world a safer place and plays a vital role in the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Security Enterprise.



Y‑12 helps ensure a safe and effective U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent. Y-12 also retrieves and stores nuclear materials, fuels the nation’s naval reactors, and performs complementary work for other government and private-sector entities.

Since 1943, Y‑12 has played a key role in strengthening our country’s national security and reducing the global threat from weapons of mass destruction.

Y‑12 has evolved to become the complex the nation looks to for support in protecting America's future, developing innovative solutions in manufacturing technologies, prototyping, safeguards and security, technical computing and environmental stewardship.

An integral part of Y‑12’s transformation efforts and a key component of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Uranium Center of Excellence, the Uranium Processing Facility is one of two facilities at Y‑12 whose joint mission will be to accomplish the storage and processing of all enriched uranium in one much smaller, centralized area.

Safety, security and flexibility are key design attributes of the facility, which is in the preliminary design phase of work. UPF will be built to modern standards and engage new technologies through a responsive and agile design. Upon completion, UPF will be a comprehensive uranium processing facility, appropriately sized and capable of meeting national security demands.

Benefits of having UPF include:

  • Improved safety, security, and reliability of enriched uranium operations
  • Protection of workers, the environment, and the public resulting from close adherence to today’s codes and standards

Electric Power Research Institute

The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. conducts research, development and demonstration (RD&D) relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and the industry to help address challenges in electricity.